The Memorial Day weekend has just come and gone. Preceding it’s arrival was a great surge of effort both for Carrie and myself, and the kids even kicked into gear earning a little spending money. With the weather cooperating it was possible to bring our primary property up to near July 4 standards! This has been one of the warmest, sunniest springs I can remember. The snowpack is only 61% of ‘normal’, and that means, unusually, forest fires are a concern this spring. Eastern Montana has experienced wildfires already. So a bit of rain is quite a welcome occurrence just now, and today it is raining.
As I sit contemplating the past 4 weeks…, maybe 6 weeks of strong effort in chasing the forest back beyond our cultured boundaries, I am relieved by a brief respite before the final push to the July 4th holiday. It’s Sunday.
I’ve found Sunday’s are the easiest days off to justify. Carrie and I have tried (successfully at times), to schedule our off days more towards the Tuesday-Wednesday zone of the week, but those days are easily gobbled up by contractors or appointments made by folks who don’t share our more creative view of a work week. Scheduling Saturday and Sunday as work days fits well for us as those days are generally the focus of visits and parties to the properties we care for. But Sunday… Rarely does anyone argue about taking Sunday off. So this was a Sunday, and I was taking it off.
With our primary property up and running, owners happily inserted, and other clients due to arrive in the next 2 to 3 weeks, I have had very little time to sail. So I took Sunday off, and managed to spend 8 hours on the water.
Thunderstorms have been moving through the area, and I’ve discovered a neat little WeatherBug radar app that shows the storm clouds in real time as a stuttered display, logging their approach on a map over time; 40 minutes away, 30 minutes away, 20 minutes away,…visually I can see the storm clouds and their severity from satellite telemetry. This, combined with an audio alert for thunderstorms in the area allows me to seek shelter readily if necessary. I feel pretty secure sailing this narrow Rocky Mountain Valley during spring storm season thanks to an absolutely remarkable piece of technology. The smartphone.
So, the day was just fantastic. I began by motoring out to fLi’s mooring alone during a light shower and took the opportunity of the wetting rain to scrub the bird poop off all decks and fixtures.
The sparrows love my boat. Lots of Perch space.
I finished my task, interrupted only by a visit from the owner of The Cedars and his guests as they pulled up to our bow a bit too quickly on the pontoon boat, giving his passengers a start. A couple of them cried out softly as the owner powered the 275 horsepower outboard in reverse, pulling her to a stop just inches before collision, and just as he’d intended, with a big smile on his face.
After introductions and a brief chat they were on their way and I went back to tending fLi.
Her decks now taken care of, the rain still falling lightly, and threat of thunderstorms perhaps 20 minutes away, I climbed into The Old Man, my 1970’s 12′ aluminum boat with her three wood benches, a 9.9 horse outboard, and a reliable anchor and oars. I named her for my grandfather, who gave me his boat before he passed away. Sporting swim noodles in brightly varied colors around her gunwales, I am able to pull her upside and bear against the sailboat in nearly any position without leaving a mark. I lashed The Old Man to the side of fLi and began the duty of scrubbing the water line.
I was reminded of a day more than 15 years ago in the Florida Keys. Carrie and I were stationed on a 115′ Hatteras at an exclusive resort, and the entire crew were required to stay aboard, owners only were permitted ashore. It was a perfect opportunity to scrub the waterline. We all donned our swim gear, grabbed green kitchen scrubbys, and sat on our life jackets on the water. In our free hands we each held a suction cup equipped handle. The handle could be easily attached to the hull while we scrubbed, giving us a handhold. We wore flippers to further buoy our position against the boat. It was laborious work and the effort required a lot of muscles that I was not used to using at such length. By the end of the chore I was as rubber as Gumby.
Back to Swan Lake.
With fLi I found it most comfortable to lean on the gunwales while reaching into the lake to dampen my brush and then scrub away, thereby removing most of the filth fairly easily. Though a fine green line remains on her blue bottom at the waterline and will require a sturdier tool. Perhaps a green kitchen scrubby is in order.. another time.
I then crawled inside the cabin to relax and let the effort drain away. I grabbed a book, and an hour and a half later, nearly asleep from the somnolence of the rain pattering on the decks while bobbing around. I received a text from Michelle, one of the many folks I’d invited to join me that day. She was available and would meet me on the dock!
With my crew welcomed aboard and the storm having passed, we set out for 8 hours of terrific sailing, company, and sustenance. In that time we traveled no further than 3 miles from our mooring. Tacking back and forth, running, heaving to, and generally exercising the boat and sails creatively and frequently, complete with a late sail change where we necessarily reduced the headsail AFTER a storm front blew in and knocked us -sailing!… As for my lack of foresight I blame the fine display of treats that had been spread before me… I simply couldn’t see past them!
The result of all this varied weather was a very active, blustery, occasionally calm, and very enjoyable evening on the water.
Tomorrow is my wife’s birthday, she would like me to take her sailing. My Weatherbug app tells me there will be storms.
One can only hope!